Harmless Drudges

|

If the brightest stars in the literary firmament combined all their candlepower for an important political cause, would it generate enough light to read a book by? Not if Dave Eggers' The Future Dictionary of America is any indication. With contributors including Wendy Wasserstein, T. Whatisname Boyle, Paul Auster, Kurt Vonnegut and many more, this Devil's Dictionary for the Bush years is designed as a way "for a great number of American writers and artists to voice their displeasure with their current political leadership, and to collectively imagine a brighter future," say the editors. All proceeds will go to "groups working for the public good in the 2004 election." (I never thought I'd get nostalgic for the old Eggers, but it's dismaying that I no longer suspect for an instant that stuff like that last bit might be a hoax.)

The problem, judging by this AP story, is that the entries are funny as lupus. Vonnegut phones in "Rumsfeld: one who can stomach casualties." Robert Coover defines "ashcrofted" as "removed from or disqualified for public office on grounds of religious delusions." Art Spiegelman goes for the lowhanging fruit once again with "ralphnadir: the lowest point in any process." That's not even a pun; it's just a misspelling. The King of Horror at least supplies a useful one: His "sloudge: endless political opining on cable television," is three syllables shorter than "bloviation," which it would replace.

It's one thing to generate comedy only the choir could laugh at, but I agree (mostly) with anti-administration opinions here and even I can't fake a laugh. I suspect the book will fly off the shelves though. As Bridget Jones would say, "It's positively Vonnegutesque."

NEXT: Support Our Troops...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Insults are always funny to an audience that despises and fears the insultee.

  2. The Believer is not edited by Dave Eggers although he contributes regularly.

    Curious though: Does Dave himself offer any definitions for this Imps’ Dictionary? Do they measure the same as the others’ entries?

  3. That novel of his, You Shall Know Us By Our Eurailpasses or whatever, was just awful, unless maybe the parts other than the dozen pages I read and the others I skipped ahead to in order to see if it got any better were plain brilliant. And the sub-David Foster Wallace (which makes it pretty sub) serial he’s publishing over at Salon stunk right out of the gate even worse, so much so that Salon barely mentions the thing even though ol’ Dave keeps crapping out new chapters.

    Now he’s losing his knack as an editor? At least the McSweeney’ses have been good up to this point. If he doesn’t recover, he can sure forget becoming George Plimpton.

  4. Geez, even John Derbyshire’s version was funnier than that.

    children, for the sake of our, n. Teachers’ unions, for the sake of the.

  5. Not exactly a bunch of Menckens.

  6. The wit of Mencken and Birece worked because they used real words and personal opinion, putting euphemism on its ear. This thing is judt groupthink sniglets.

    When the soundtrack’s great, the movie usually sucks. Same probably applies for this book.

  7. The wit of Mencken and Birece worked because they used real words and personal opinion, putting euphemism on its ear. This thing is just groupthink sniglets.

    When the soundtrack’s great, the movie usually sucks. Same probably applies for this book.

  8. Now he’s losing his knack as an editor?

    I don’t know how involved in it he is, but from what I’ve seen of The Believer, it’s pretty good.

  9. I like The Believer, though it’s been too pricey for me to purchase as of yet. I’m curious to look at this dictionary because I like some of the people included, but it’s not only not that funny and preaching to the choir, it also seems to be less about “imagining a brighter future” than bitching about the present. Love the Bridget reference though.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.